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within narrow and gloomy limits by known to every heart, the latter only the nature of his subject, his creative to a few." spirit equals that of Homer himself. The melancholy tone which perHe has given birth to as many new vades Dante's writings was doubtless, ideas in the Inferno and the Paradiso, in a great measure, owing to the misas the Grecian bard in the Iliad and fortunes of his life; and to them we Odyssey.

are also indebted for many of the most Though he had reflected so much caustic and powerful of his versesand so deeply on the human heart, perhaps for the design of the Inferno and was so perfect a master of all the itself. He took vengeance on the anatomy of mental suffering, Dante's generation which had persecuted and mind was essentially descriptive. He exiled him, by exhibiting its leaders was a great painter as well as a pro- suffering in the torments of hell. In found thinker ; he clothed deep feels his long seclusion, chiefly in the monasing in the garb of the senses ; he con- tery of Santa Croce di Fonte Avelceived a vast brood of new ideas, he lana, a wild and solitary retreat in arrayed them in a surprising manner the territory of Gubbio, and in a tower in flesh and blood. He is ever clear belonging to the Conte Falcucci, in and definite, at least in the Inferno. the same district, his immortal work He exhibits in every canto of that was written. The mortifications he wonderful poem a fresh image, but it underwent during this long and disis a clear one, of horror or anguish, mal exile are thus described by himwhich leaves nothing to the imagina. self:—“Wandering over almost every tion to add or conceive. His ideal part in which our language extends, characters are real persons ; they I have gone about like a mendicant; are present to our senses; we feel showing against my will the wound their flesh, see the quivering of their with which fortune has smitten me, limbs, hear their lamentations, and and which is often falsely imputed to feel a thrill of joy at their felicity. the demerit of him by whom it is enIn the Paradiso he is more vague dured. I have been, indeed, a vessel and general, and thence its acknow- without sail or steerage, carried about ledged inferiority to the Inferno. to divers ports, and roads, and shores, But the images of horror are much by the dry wind that springs out of more powerful than those of happi- sad poverty.” Dess, and it is they which have en- In the third circle of hell, Dante tranced the world. “It is easier," sees those who are punished by the says Madame de Staël, “ to convey plague of burning sand falling perpeideas of suffering than those of happi- tually on them. Their torments are ness ; for the former are too well thus described

“ Supin giaceva in terra alcuna gente ;
Alcuna si sedea tutta raccolta;
Ed altra andava continuamente.

Quella che giva intorno era più molta ;
E quella men che giaceva al tormento;
Ma più al duolo avea la lingua sciolta.

Sovra tutto 'l sabbion d'un cader lento
Piovean di fuoco dilatate falde,
Come di neve in alpe senza vento.

Quali Alessandro in quelle parti calde
D’India vide sovra lo suo stuolo
Fiamme cadere infino a terra salde.”

Inferno, c. xiv.
« Of naked spirits many a flock I saw,
All weeping piteously, to different laws
Subjected: for on earth some lay supine,
Some crouching close were seated, others paced
Incessantly around; the latter tribe
More numerous, those fewer who beneath
The torment lay, but louder in their grief.

O'er all the sand fell slowly wafting down

Dilated flakes of fire, as flakes of snow
On Alpine summit, when the wind is hush'd.
As, in the torrid Indian clime, the son
Of Ammon saw, upon his warrior band
Descending, solid Hames, that to the ground
Came down."

Cary's Dante, c. xiv.
The first appearance of Malebolge is described in these striking lines

“ Luogo è in Inferno, detto Malebolge,
Tutto di pietra e di color ferrigno,
Come la cerchia che d'intorno il volge.

Nel dritto mezzo del campo maligno
Vaneggia un pozzo assai largo e profondo,
Di cui suo luogo conterà l' ordigno.

Quel cinghio che rimane adunque è tondo
Tra 'l pozzo e 'l piè dell'alta ripa dura,
E ha distinto in dieci valli al fondo."

Inferno, c. xvii.
“ There is a place within the depths of hell
Call’d Malebolge, all of rock dark-stain'd
With hue ferruginous, e'en as the steep
That round it circling winds. Right in the midst
Of that abominable region yawns
A spacious gulf profound, whereof the frame
Due time shall tell. The circle, that remains,
Throughout its round, between the gulf and base
Of the high craggy banks, successive forms
Ten bastions, in its hollow bottom raised."

Cary's Dante, c. xviii. This is the outward appearance of Malebolge, the worst place of punishment in hell. It had many frightful abysses; what follows is the picture of the first :

“ Ristemmo per veder l'altra fessura
Di Malebolge e gli altri pianti vani :
E vidila mirabilmente oscura.

Quale nell' arzana de' Veneziani
Bolle l'inverno la tenace pece,
A rimpalmar li legni lor non sani-

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Tal non per fuoco ma per divina arte,
Bollia laggiuso una pegola spessa,

Che inviscava la ripa d'ogni parte.
I' vedea lei, ma non vedeva in essa
Ma che le bolle che 'l bollor levava,

E gonfiar tutta e riseder compressa.
E vidi dietro a noi un diavol nero
Correndo su

per lo scoglio venire.
Ahi quant'egli era nell'aspetto fiero !
E quanto mi parea nell'atto acerbo,
Con l'ali aperte e sovre i piè leggiero !

L'omero suo ch'era acuto e superbo
Carcava un peccator con ambo l'anche,
Ed ei tenea de' pie ghermito il nerbo.

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La il buttò e per lo scoglio duro
Si volse, e mai non fu mastino sciolto
Con tanta fretta a seguitar lo furo.

Quei s'attuffò e tornô su convolto;
Ma i demon che del ponte avean coverchio
Gridar : qui non ha luogo il Santo Volto.

Qui si nuota altramenti che nel Serchio :

Però se tu non vuoi de' nostri graffi,
Non far sovra la pegola soverchio.

Poi l'addentar con più di cento raffi,
Disser: coverto convien che qui balli,
Si che se puoi nascosamente accafli."

Inferno, c. xxi.
-To the summit reaching, stood
To view another gap, within the round
Of Malebolge, other bootless pangs.

Marvellous darkness shadow'd o'er the place.

In the Venetians' arsenal as boils
Through wintry months tenacious pitch, to smear
Their unsound vessels in the wintry clime.

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Him dashing down, o'er the rough rock he turn'd;
Nor ever after thief a mastiff loosed
Sped with like eager haste. That other sank,
And forthwith writhing to the surface rose.
But those dark demons, shrouded by the bridge,
Cried-Here the hallow'd visage saves not: here
Is other swimming than in Serchio's wave,
Wherefore, if thou desire we rend thee not,
Take heed thou mount not o'er the pitch. This said,
They grappled him with more than hundred hooks,
And shouted-Cover'd thou must sport thee here;
So, if thou canst, in secret mayst thou fileh."

Cary's Dante, c. xxi.
Fraught as his imagination was ings, and with outstretched hooks
with gloomy ideas, with images tearing his flesh till he dived again
of borror, it is the fidelity of his beneath the liquid fire! It is the
descriptions, the minute reality of reality of the scene, the images fami-
his pictures, which gives them their liar yet magnified in horror, which
terrible power. He knew well what constitutes its power: we stand by ;
it is that penetrates the soul. His our flesh creeps as it would at wit-
images of horror in the infernal re- nessing an auto-da-of Castile, or on
gions were all founded on those fami- beholding a victim perishing under
liar to every one in the upper world; the knout in Russia.
it was from the caldron of boiling Michael Angelo was, in one sense,
pitch in the arsenal of Venice that he the painter of the Old Testament, as
took his idea of one of the pits of his bold and aspiring genius arrived
Malebolge. But what a picture does rather at delineating the events of
he there exhibit! The writhing sin- warfare, passion, or suffering, chro-
ner plunged headlong into the boiling nicled in the records of the Jews, than
waves, rising to the surface, and a the scenes of love, affection, and be-
hundred demons, mocking his suffer- nevolence, depicted in the gospels.

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But his mind was not formed merely chapel of the Crucifix, under the roof
on the events recorded in antiquity: of that august edifice. The “ Holy
it is no world doubtful of the immor- Family" in the Palazzo Pitti at Flo-
tality of the soul which he depicts. rence, and the “ Three Fates” in the
He is rather the personification in same collection, give an idea of his
painting of the soul of Dante. His powers in oil-painting: thus he car-
imagination was evidently fraught ried to the highest perfection, at the
with the conceptions of the Inferno. same time, the rival arts of architec-
The expression of mind beams forth ture, sculpture, fresco and oil painting. *
in all his works. Vehement passion, He may truly be called the founder of
stern resolve, undaunted valour, saint- Italian painting, as Homer was of the
ed devotion, infant innocence, alter- ancient epic, and Dante of the great
nately occupied his pencil. It is hard style in modern poetry. None but a
to say in which he was greatest. In colossal mind could have done such
all his works we see marks of the ge- things. Raphael took lessons from
nius of antiquity meeting the might of him in painting, and professed through
modern times: the imagery of mytho- life the most unbounded respect for
logy blended with the aspirations of his great preceptor. None have at-
Christianity. We see it in the dome tempted to approach him in architec-
of St Peter's, we see it in the statue ture; the cupola of St Peter's stands
of Moses. Grecian sculpture was the alone in the world.
realization in form of the conceptions But notwithstanding all this, Michael
of Homer; Italian painting the repre- Angelo had some defects. He created
sentation on canvass of the revelations the great style in painting, a style
of the gospel, which Dante clothed in which has made modern Italy as im-
the garb of poetry. Future ages should mortal as the arms of the legions did
ever strive to equal, but can never the ancient. But the very grandeur
hope to excel them.

of his conceptions, the vigour of bis Never did artist work with more drawing, his incomparable command persevering vigour than Michael An- of bone and muscle, his lofty expresgelo. He himself said that he la- sion and impassioned mind, made him boured harder for fame, than ever neglect, and perhaps despise, the poor artist did for bread. Born lesser details of his art. Ardent in of a noble family, the heir to con- the pursuit of expression, he often siderable possessions, he took to the overlooked execution. When he arts from his earliest years from en- painted the Last Judgment or the Fall thusiastic passion and conscious power. of the Titans in fresco, on the ceiling During a long life of ninety years, he and walls of the Sistine Chapel, he was prosecuted them with the ardent zeal incomparable ; but that gigantic style of youth. He was consumed by the was unsuitable for lesser pictures or thirst for fame, the desire of great rooms of ordinary proportions. By achievements, the invariable mark of the study of his masterpieces, subseheroic minds; and which, as it is al- quent painters have often been led together beyond the reach of the great astray; they have aimed at force of bulk of mankind, so is the feeling of expression to the neglect of delicacy all others which to them is most in- in execution. This defect is, in an escomprehensible. Nor was that noble pecial manner, conspicuous in Sir enthusiasm without its reward. It Joshua Reynolds, who worshipped was his extraordinary good fortune to Michael Angelo with the most debe called to form, at the same time, voted fervour; and through him it has the Last Judgment on the wall of the descended to Lawrence, and nearly Sistine Chapel, the glorious dome of the whole modern school of England. St Peter's, and the group of Notre When we see Sir Joshua's noble glass Dame de Pitié, which now adorns the window in Magdalen College, Ox

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* The finest design ever conceived by Michael Angelo was a cartoon representing warriors bathing, and some buckling on their armour at the sound of the trumpet, which summoned them to their standards in the war between Pisa and Florence. It perished, however, in the troubles of the latter city; but an engraved copy remains of part, which justifies the eulogiums bestowed upon it.

ford, we behold the work of a worthy done, because great efforts are not papil of Michael Angelo ; we see the made. great style of painting in its proper None will work now without the place, and applied to its appropriate prospect of an immediate return. object. But when we compare his very possibly it is so; but then let us portraits, or imaginary pieces in oil, not hope or wish for immortality. with those of Titian, Velasquez, or " Present time and future,” says Sir Vandyke, the inferiority is manifest. Joshua Reynolds, “are rivals; he who It is not in the design but the finishing; solicits the one must expect to be dispot in the conception but the execu- countenanced by the other.” It is not tion. The colours are frequently raw that we want genius ; what we want and harsh; the details or distant is the great and heroic spirit which parts of the piece ill-finished or ne- will devote itself, by strenuous efforts, glected. The bold neglect of Michael to great things, without seeking any Angelo is very apparent. Raphael, reward but their accomplishment. with less original genius than his im- Nor let it be said that great subjects mortal master, had more taste and for the painter's pencil, the poet's much greater delicacy of pencil; his muse, are not to be found—that they conceptions, less extensive and varied, are exhausted by former efforts, and are more perfect; his finishing is al- nothing remains to us but imitation. ways exquisite. Unity of emotion Nature is inexhaustible; the events was bis great object in design ; equal of men are unceasing, their variety is delicacy of finishing in execution. endless. Philosophers were mourning Thence he has attained by universal the monotony of time, historians were consent the highest place in paint- deploring the sameness of events, in

the years preceding the French Revo“Nothing,” says Sir Joshua Rey- lution on the eve of the Reign of nolds, " is denied to well-directed Terror, the flames of Moscow, the labour ; nothing is to be attained retreat from Russia. What was the without it.” “Excellence in any de- strife around Troy to the battle of partment," says Johnson, “

Leipsic?—the contests of Florence be attained only by the labour of a and Pisa to the revolutionary war? lifetime; it is not to be purchased at What ancient naval victory to that of a lesser price." These words should Trafalgar? Rely upon it, subjects for ever be present to the minds of all genius are not wanting; genius itself, who aspire to rival the great of for- steadily and perseveringly directed, is mer days; who feel in their bosoms a the thing required. But genius and spark of the spirit which led Homer, energy alone are not sufficient; COURDante, and Michael Angelo to im- AGE and disinterestedness are needed mortality. In a luxurious age, com- more than all. Courage to withstand fort or station is deemed the chief the assaults of envy, to despise the good of life ; in a commercial commu- ridicule of mediocrity-disinterestednity, money becomes the universal ness to trample under foot the seducobject of ambition. Thence our ac- tions of ease, and disregard the attracknowledged deficiency in the fine arts; tions of opulence. An heroic mind is thence our growing weakness in the more wanted in the library or the higher branches of literature. Talent studio, than in the field. It is wealth looks for its reward too soon. Genius and cowardice which extinguish the seeks an immediate recompense ; long light of genius, and dig the grave of protracted exertions are never at literature as of nations. tempted ; great things are not

can now

VOL. LVII. NO. CCCLI.

B

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